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Khmer Krom Fear New Year Violence

Members of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom minority living in Vietnam are continuing to flee their homes or live in fear, as security forces have been deployed to surround them, witnesses told VOA Khmer.

One woman said she received a shooting injury in an April 9 crackdown on the Khmer Krom, who are culturally linked to Cambodia but live in Vietnam.

The Khmer Krom have not been allowed to celebrate their traditional New Year, for fear of a crackdown, she said.

“No one dares to go out. We are just hiding, as black-uniformed, fully equipped forces have been deployed around our village,” said the woman, who like other witnesses asked that her name be withheld for fear of retribution.

A second witness, from Tin Bien of Tra Bao district, Vietnam, said he had been forced to move around from one place to another, fearing arrest by government forces, including through trickery.

A person might be invited to a party, only to be arrested, he said.

“They’ve deployed troops and are watching us and trying to arrest us,” he said. “We do not have any freedom.”

As many as 300 Khmer Krom in Vietnam protested last week, claiming their rights were abused by officials, but witnesses said the protest led to a crackdown, where five people were injured and six were arrested for illegal demonstration.

Ang Chanrith, director of the Khmer Krom Human Rights Organization in Cambodia, said the situation was “more serious” than before the Khmer New Year.

No international rights groups or embassies had paid any attention to the crackdown, he said.